Body & Skincare

Resurfacing Acids – The Low Down

I am sure by now you have heard words like AHA, BHA, Acids, Alpha Hydroxy and so on. Well basically these are all referring to different types of skin resurfacing acids.

Today’s post is going to be a simple roundup of the different types of acids, what their main benefits are, where to use them in your routine, who should use them and also I might even throw in my favourite products.

So, how do acids work? Well quite simply they are a resurfacing or exfoliating product. Instead of exfoliating in the traditional way with a grainy exfoliator, acids work to break down the glue that holds our dead surface skin cells together. As a result the skins natural cell renewal process is accelerated. Once the older skin is removed the skin is left looking brighter, more even, firmer and smoother. Any product you apply after an acid will penetrate deeper into the skin as the dead skin cells are no longer blocking them from entering.

The best thing is all acids are derived from natural products such as fruit, milk, etc. They are made in labs today but they would still be very gentle on the skin.

Where do acids go in your skincare routine? I tend to use them 2 to 3 times a week at night, straight after I cleanse. I follow them up with a hydrating serum and an oil or cream depending on how my skin feels. If you are new to acids, I would recommend using once a week and applying a small layer of hyaluronic acid before hand to reduce sensitivity. As your skin becomes used to the acid you can remove the hyaluronic acid and increase the usage. 

There are different types of acids so lets get started.

Beta Hydroxy Acid BHA (Best for acne prone, congested skins)

Salicylic Acid
  • Soluble in oil
  • Great for spots/breakouts
  • Oleophilic which means it is attracted to oils instead of water
  • Perfect for oilier skin
  • Anti Bacterial
  • Anti Inflammatory so also great for Rosacea prone skin
  • Can be used all over the face for bad acne or for spot treatment
  • Larger molecule so works more on the surface of the skin
  • Not very irritating due to the larger size molecules (doesn’t penetrate a much as other acids)

Some product recommendations are ‘The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Solution’ €5.30 for 30ml (available here)  Image Skincare Clear Cell range available from Image Skincare stockists and Neostrata Refine range available here.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids AHA (Best for Normal to Drier skins)

Glycolic Acid
  • Smaller molecules than Salicylic so this can cause some irritation so use sparingly
  • Skin smoothing
  • Resurfacing
  • Use at night 2-3 times a week
  • Best for normal skins

My favourite Glycolic products normally come in toner formulations for example ‘Pixi Glow Tonic’ €23.50 for 250ml (available here) and ‘Alpha H Liquid Gold’ €37.50 for 100ml (available here). The Inkey List also have a very decent version for €9.99 for 100ml (here). I also love the Neostrata Glycolic Treatment Peel Kit which are amazing for an at home intense treatment, available here

Lactic Acid
  • Not vegan friendly as made from milk
  • Hydrating
  • Less irritating than Glycolic
  • Best for drier, more sensitive skins

My favourite Lactic Acids are nice and inexpensive. I love The Ordinary version which comes in a 5% and 10%  which are around €6.50 for 30ml and also The Inkey List version is fab at €9.99 for 30ml which is available here.

Azelaic Acid
  • This is amazing for treatment of Rosacea
  • Decreases swelling and redness
  • Anti Bacterial
  • Also great for acne
  • Gentle exfoliation

I have only tried ‘The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%’ version which I love . It is €7.20 and available here.

Poly Hydroxy Acids PHA 

  • Very gentle – the least irritating of all
  • Similar to AHA but not as severe
  • Builds up the skins natural barrier
  • Great after intense peels or surgery
  • Great for all over the body
  • Skin Smoothing
  • Resurfacing
  • Great for beginners or teens
  • Amazing for Eczema sufferers

I have not tried many PHA’s but the one I have tried and have found amazing results with is Neostrata’s Bionic Cream €54.50 for a huge tube available here. This is a hero product for me. Use at night though as it very sticky so not the most pleasant to wear. 

So, tell me, what acids do you use? Are you a regular acid user or only new to these ingredients? I find them hugely beneficial in my skincare routine and know so many of my followers do too. Let me know your experiences of them below. For more information on how to incorporate acids into your skincare and how to combine them with other ingredients check out my recent post on layering skincare.

Anita xxx

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